An organizer of a recent Free Speech Rally in Boston has filed a $100 million lawsuit against Mayor Martin J. Walsh after he says Walsh purposefully defamed the group as neo-Nazis, which led to him being hounded by internet activists and losing his job.
Lowell resident Brandon Navom filed a civil suit in Berkshire County Superior Court Monday that claimed Walsh made “knowing lies or reckless false statements” about the organizers behind the August rally, which drew a few dozen speakers and more than 20,000 counterprotesters to the Common. He’s seeking $50 million in actual damages, $50 million in punitive damages and a declaration that Walsh’s statements were “false and defamatory.”
A spokeswoman for Walsh said the mayor had no comment.
In the lawsuit, Navom said he helped organize the rally and was scheduled as a speaker but withdrew from the event after a woman was killed during a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. The lawsuit claims Walsh implied Navom and other organizers were tied to the violence in Virginia, saying “it’s my understanding they’re coming to Boston” in reference to hate groups and “there’s no place for the hate that they’re spewing.”
As a result of Walsh’s comments and Navom’s planned appearance at the event, the suit alleges the software engineer was harassed by an “internet hate mob” that exposed his address and contact information and targeted his employer, leading the employer to fire him.
Navom’s attorney, Rinaldo Del Gallo, said the suit was filed in Berkshire County in the hopes of finding a “more neutral and unbiased” jury than one in Boston.
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